written by
Mark Sproul (KB2ICI)
and Keith Sproul (WU2Z)

The current version of MacAPRS™ is 3.8.4

The current version of WinAPRS™ is 2.8.4

Last updated Feb 28, 2006

Email the authors at or

Files can be downloaded from DOWNLOAD DIRECTORY

Download the MacOSX MacAPRS for MacOS-X

Click here for info on using TIGER MAPS in WinAPRS/MacAPRS/X-APRS


APRS stands for Automatic Position Reporting System. Mac/WinAPRS is a program for utilizing mapping and GPS technology along with Ham radio (packet) for use in tracking real time geographically related information such as the location of vehicles or the status of weather. It has many many facets and uses.

Key Features

Quick Start

About this document

This document is created for viewing with a Web Browser AND as printed text. Therefore there are features of this document that may seem slightly redundant. This way, as little is lost as possible when the document is printed. You can download this document and view it with your web browser. The ENTIRE documentation in web format and the images is available as a ZIP file, download it, pkunzip with -d option, then open INDEX.HTM with your favorite web browser. This way you can have the documentation locally and not have to view it on line. at

Netscape has an option to add titles and page numbers to web documents when printed, this is very useful if you want to print this.


MacAPRS™ and WinAPRS™ are very similar. They are actually one set of source code, written in "C/C++" compiled for two different environments. There are some feature differences but nothing major. Our intent is to make both versions as full featured as possible. There are some things on the Mac that are not easily accomplished on the Windows platform that will never get implemented (such as the speech output of messages). In this document, features found in the Mac version will be noted with the Apple Icon and features found in the Windows version will be noted by the Windows Icon.
Mac Version Windows Version

Table of Contents

  1. Overview and Setup

  2. User Reference

  3. Advanced Features

  4. Troubleshooting etc

  5. Related Documents

  6. Index


WinAPRS™ is a version of MacAPRS™ for the Windows operating system. WinAPRS implements the APRS™ protocol for Automatic Position Reporting System originally developed by Bob Bruninga.

MacAPRS™ and WinAPRS™ are licensed versions of APRS™. "APRS" is trademarked by Bob Bruninga, MacAPRS and WinAPRS are trademarked by Mark and Keith Sproul.


Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, developed a system for tracking objects using Packet Radio. His system uses unconnected packets (UI frames) for transmitting the position and other information about each station or object. He has been working on this system since 1984. In 1992 Bob presented a paper at the ARRL Computer Networking Conference that introduced the DOS program called APRS (Automatic Position Reporting System). APRS is a program that receives these packets and displays the objects on a map on your computer screen. Since then, APRS has become quite popular in Packet Radio and is gaining new users daily.

MacAPRS / WinAPRS are implementations of WB4APR's APRS protocols. MacAPRS / WinAPRS are written in "C" using none of the code from Bob's original QuickBasic program. MacAPRS / WinAPRS is designed to be fully compatible with the protocols developed by Bob Bruninga.

New Users

The APRS family of software has many uses and is many different things to different people. APRS can be used for There are many little things about APRS that users, both new and and old get caught up on, these include path settings, (WIDE, GATE, etc). The use of gateways (HF to VHF and VHF to HF).


MacAPRS and WinAPRS are shareware. The shareware registrations are The downloadable versions of MacAPRS and WinAPRS are fully functional and are the SAME versions that registered users have. The only difference is that if you are not registered, you cannot save your settings. One registration covers ALL aspects, there are no hidden charges or extra charges for extra features. When you register, you will receive a validation number. This number allows you to save your settings.

All payments MUST be in US dollars and checks must be drawn on a US bank. International money orders are also fine.
Please send shareware fees to

Recent additions to MacAPRS and WinAPRS

Download the latest version from DOWNLOAD DIRECTORY

WinAPRS Version 2.8.4 - Feb 28, 2006
MacAPRS Version 3.8.4

WinAPRS Version 2.8.2 - Nov 16, 2005
MacAPRS Version 3.8.2

WinAPRS Version 2.8.0 - May 10, 2005
MacAPRS Version 3.8.0

WinAPRS Version 2.7.7 - Aug 25, 2004
MacAPRS Version 3.7.7

Click here for full revsion list

System Requirements for Macintosh

MacAPRS requires System 7.0 or later.

MacAPRS will utilize multiple monitors if you have more than one monitor attached to your Mac.

System Requirements for Windows

WinAPRS is written to the Win32 API fpr Womdpws95 and later.

At least Windows2000 is recommended but Windos 95 and 98 work fine.

Comm Ports 1 through 8 have been tested and all work fine.

Special note to long-time users of DOS-APRS: WinAPRS is a proper Windows application, it does NOT conform to the menu keys that were implemented under DOS-APRS. Those are a "DOS" implementation. WinAPRS follows official "Windows" programming guidelines including most of the standard control and shortcut keys.


WinAPRS is normally distributed via the internet as a ZIP file, To unzip the file The "-d" option should make it create the necessary directories and sub-directories.

The ZIP file should unzip to exactly what is below, if it does not, follow these steps.

  1. Create a folder (directory) called "WinAPRS" (or what ever you want)
  2. Copy the following to that folder
  3. Either copy or create a folder called "MAPS". This folder MUST be here and must be called exactly "MAPS".
  4. Put any and all of your maps in the MAPS folder.

  5. Create a folder called "TNCfiles"
  6. Copy all of the TNC settings files into it

    Recommended but not required

  7. Create a folder called DOCS (see section on Help Window)
  8. Copy WAPRSdoc.htm into it


  9. Create a folder called "DATA"
  10. Copy AIRPORT.DAT into this folder
  11. Copy ZIPCODE.DAT into this folder

  12. Create a folder called "LABELS"
  13. Copy label files into this folder (see section on global labels)

  14. Create a folder called "OVERLAYS"
  15. Copy any ".POS" files into this folder
Installation diagnostics: On startup, MacAPRS / WinAPRS checks to see if required files are present and if optional files are in the wrong place, any errors are reported. I added this after several problems from users getting things set up correctly. MacAPRS and WinAPRS are growing and expanding, the options and setup procedure are going to get more involved, I will continue to add as much intelligence into the program to assist users as I can.

Tiger Maps

For more images click here
For samples of Puerto Rico

The US Census Bureau has mapping data for the entire USA that is the best in the world, most of the major mapping companies start out with the data from them. This data is called TIGER Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing system This data is very good and is updated every year. However it takes lots of memory to deal with it. Previously with WinAPRS, there has not been enough memory or CPU power to deal with this data directly, previous versions of maps for use with WinAPRS have been derived from this data but a lot of the information was lost when converted. Now WinAPRS/MacAPRS/X-APRS uses the data directly and you can see that the maps are the best yet for APRS.

All of the 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands are included in this coverage


Starting with version 3.7.9/2.7.9 Mac/WinAPRS has the ability to download all of the TIGER data from within the program. You no longer have to download manually. You will have to unzip the zip files manully. I am working on unziping within the program but do not have it working at this time.
To use TIGER maps with MacAPRS/WinAPRS/X-APRS


The US Census Bureau also has Gazetteer files that list names of cities. In congjunction with the Tiger maps, The PLACES file is now supported. To make this work, download the places2k.txt file. Save this file as is in the "Tiger" folder.

For more information about the file, refer to


The Canadian Centre for Topographic Information has made avaialble gif images of maps of ALL of Canada. These maps come in 2 reolutions and are very good maps. They are gif images so there is no searching or scalling. To use the Toporama maps, create a folder called "Toporama" and places the images in that folder. You MUST also have Tiger maps set up as these only disply in a Tiger Map window. You should download the US state outlines at the very least.

The map images can e downloaded from

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the fact that Mac/WinAPRS uses a square mapping model, the farther north you go, the more distored the map images appear.


Originally I thought that the settings for WinAPRS would have to be dramatically different from what was done for MacAPRS, this is due to the vastly different implementation of dialogs for Windows versus the MacOS. I was able to write software that read the Mac dialog resources and output Windows dialog resource descriptions. This made the conversion dramatically easier and made the dialog boxes for both versions practically identical.

Under the SETTINGS menu there are several different settings dialog boxes. They may not be in this order.

Performance issues

MacAPRS and WinAPRS are multi-faceted programs, they have many uses for many different purposes and people. They can utilize large amounts of system resources. For example, if the ZIPCODE.DAT file is present in the DATA folder, it ALWAYS gets loaded into memory and kept in memory the entire time the program is running. If the file is NOT present, then it is not loaded and the memory is not used. If you are trying to run on smaller systems such as laptops some of these options should be removed. Please keep this in mind when configuring your setup.

memory.txt or config.txt

Either file name can be used. It will look for config.txt first, then look for memory.txt. Only one will be read. Since users need to be able to configure the amount of memory being allocated for station lists etc, before the program is launched and even if they are not registered, a separate config file is set up for this purpose. It is memory.txt. It must be located in the same directory as the WinAPRS.exe application. It can contain the following commands. Use a single TAB to separate the command and the argument. If the memory.txt file is not present, it will default to the normal station counts that it did in version 2.4.2.


On startup, Mac/Win/X-APRS will look for a file called startup.log in the same folder as the application. If this file is found, it will be read in and processed. This file is to have normal APRS packets in it. These packets will be processed normally as if they just came in. This can be used to create stations or objects that you always want to be there.


In order for Mac/Win/X-APRS to know what servers to connect to, on startup it looks for a file called APRServe.txt (case is not important for Mac/Windows but is for Unix/Linux). This file contains the servername, port number for the various APRServers.

APRS Frequencies

APRS is used primarily on these frequencies

TNC Settings

These tips may help in setting up your TNC

Pico Packet setup with GPS input

The Paccomm PicoPacket TNC has the advantage of having a second serial port input that can be connected to a GPS. This solves the problem of needing 2 serial ports on a laptop.


The GPSTEXT parameter specifies the NEMA string that is to be parsed. The parsed string is placed in the LTEXT buffer. When the PicoPacket receives a Control-E the contents of the LTEXT buffer is sent to the computer.The check boxes in the "GPS Settings..." specifies which computer port the string is to be sent. With the above settings, WinAPRS will automatically send a Control-E to the PicoPacket in approximately one minute intervals.

To use the PicoPacket TNC with WinAPRS and a GPS attached to the TNC, configure as follows.

The following TNCs have been thoroughly tested with MacAPRS and WinAPRS

Additional TNC settings STARTUP and SHUTDOWN

MacAPRS / WinAPRS will additionally transmit a text file to the TNC on startup and shutdown. These files can contain any TNC commands that you may need and may be of any length. Lines starting with "*" or "!" are comments and not passed to the TNC.

Since you can have more than one TNC in use, Mac/WinAPRS looks for several file names, the first one it finds in each catogory is the one used. Once it finds one of them, it does not look for any of the remaining names. These are determined at STARTUP of the program, to see which file is currently being used, refer to the Internal State Window. The files used for dosAPRS will work just fine for WinAPRS and MacAPRS.

TNC Selection

Under the SETTINGS Menu is "TNC Selection", this displays a list of all of the TNC setup files in the directory "TNCfiles", these files are supplied as standard TNC setup files as described above for each of several different brand and model of TNCs. Select the mode and TNC model that you will be using.

Please note: the settings contained in each of these TNC files may not be perfect for your station but are an attempt to make initial setup easier and quicker.

TNC Commands Menu

Under the SETTINGS menu, there is a sub menu called TNC COMMANDS, under this there are several commands to send APRS strings and affect the TNC.


KISS mode is where the computer does all of the AX25 formatting instead of the TNC. This takes a fair amount more work on the computer's part but facilitates a lot of advanced options. For example, if running in normal TNC mode, to change the path, the software has to tell the TNC to first EXIT CONVerse mode, issue \ the change proto command UNPROTO APRS via NEW,PATH, then issue CONVerse again. Under KISS mode, the path is all controlled by the software since it actuatlly does the formatting of packet.

Also KISS mode gets rid of any problems with TNC settings, everything is done in the software.

Kiss mode settings dialog box

The advantages of KISS mode

First, under KISS mode, the TNC settings such as HEADERLN, PACLEN, aliases, etc. etc. are no longer needed. Everything is handled inside of the program.

Second and most important, is unproto path, to change the path in normal mode TNC, you have to send a control-C, then wait, then send the path "UNPROTO xxx VIA yyy,zzz", the send CONV, then send the new packet, then do this all over again to set it back. All of this and you are NOT guaranteed that the packet will go out with the new path. If the channel was busy and the packet did not get out. It will go out with the path that is set at the time of transmission out the RADIO, not the path that was set when the packet was sent from the computer to the TNC.

Under KISS mode, EVERY packet can have its own path, in some areas, this can be very important. I am working on message REVERSE PATH, whereby, when you REPLY to a message, the reverse path is used to send the message back to the station that sent it. For example, if a message gets to you via X,Y,Z, then the most probable path to get a message back is via Z,Y,X. This hopefully will increase the reliability of getting messages through and at the same time reduce wasted packets.

AGWPE / Baycom / Soundblaster support

AGWPE is the AGW Packet Engine written by SV2AGW. This software is a standalone packet engine that basically does nothing but talk to TNCs. It gives other program a uniform interface to talk to any TNC, be it a normal TNC-2 design or a Baycom or a soundblaster hooked up to a radio. Refer to for full information.

The AGWPE packet engine allows multiple programs to talk to the TNC at the same time. This means you can run WinAPRS and a BBS program and a DX cluster all at the same time with one TNC. (they have to be on the same frequency). Additionally, the TNC can be on a separate computer.

The ability to run on a SEPARATE computer is VERY IMPORTANT This allows MacAPRS and X-APRS users to use this feature as well if they have a Windows Box available.

Other advantages include

Installation of AGWPE

Once AGWPE is configured, in WinAPRS go to SETTINGS / PORTS. This will bring up a list, It should be pre-configured with an entry for AGWPE on LOCAL. Select this entry and click the OPEN button. That is all there is to it.

If you want to run AGWPE on a separate machine, go to your WinAPRS/MacAPRS directory, and find the PORTS folder. The latest version should create that folder for you. Inside it will be files. Duplicate the AGWPE.PRT file and edit it to contain the TCP/IP address of the machine you are running AGWPE on. Then proceed as above.

The AGWPE program is shareware, however, he only requires registration if you are using the TCP over AX-25 option.

Port Objects

Starting with WinAPRS version 2.4.0 there is a new way to specify ports. This is called port objects. This will be the only way to deal with ports in X-APRS and eventually MacAPRS and WinAPRS will switch entirely to this new methodology. This method will allow as many TNCs, Weather stations, etc. as you want to have installed.

The definitions for these port objects is kept in a folder called PORTS. The files are simple ASCII text files with parameters for configuring the port. If the PORTS folder is missing, it will get created automatically with some default definitions. If you are upgrading from version 2.4.0 or later to a newer version. Then the simplest way to figure out any new settings is to rename the PORTS folder to PORTS_OLD and let it create the ports forlder anew. Then look at the sample files for changes.

It is important to understand, not all keywords are used for all types of ports. For example, the AGWTNC number is meaningless for a normal TCP connection. If these are not needed, they will be simply ignored. Eventually there will be a dialog box to allow editing/creating these definitions.

Port Objects Keywords
(sorted alphabetically)
Keyword argument default comment
AGWTNC number 0 AGWPE can define multiple TNCs to be used simultaneously. I
This will be used to indicate elsewhere in APRS as to where the data came from
BAUD number 9600 Baud rate, only applies to type SERIAL
COMPORT string COM1 for serial devies it is the port, i.e. COM1
HOST string hostname:port - i.e is the LOCAL address for AGWPE
NAME string no-name User assigned name for port (31 chars max)
PARSER string APRS "APRS", "AGWPE" are the only options for now, more will come
PATH string WIDE,WIDE the default path for this port
STOPBITS number 1 For serial port
TCPPORT number 10151 Not needed if the port is specified with the host address.
Whichever comes LAST in the file will be used
TYPE string none "SERIAL" or "TCP" as of Version 2.4.1, only TCP is implemented

Help Window

At any time in the program you can press the F-1 key and get the help window. This is in addition to the WinHelp functionality. This help window is different in that it will take you to different parts of the documentation depending on which window you have in the foreground. The help file is the WAPRSdoc.htm HTML document. Built in is a simple HTML parser. The help file is not loaded until the first time you access it, then it is kept in memory.

The WAPRSdoc.htm file must be in a directory called "Docs" which must be in the same directory as WinAPRS.EXE


The map file format for WinAPRS is EXACTLY the same as MacAPRS. This means that all of the maps developed for MacAPRS are usable for WinAPRS. You must have a "Maps" folder (directory) in the same folder as the MacAPRS / WinAPRS application. All Maps must be placed inside this folder. You can have folders inside of the map folder. These will be displayed as hierarchical menus.

The maps that are used with DOS-APRS work just as well, simply put them into the same MAPS folder and they will show up in the MAP menu. There is no "MAPLIST.DAT" file as there is in DOS-APRS. All you have to do is put the maps in the MAPS directory and run the program. Please note that the DOS-APRS maps have far less resolution than the MacAPRS maps. They have a maximum of 3000 points. We have some MacAPRS maps that have 130,000 points and recently created one map that has 250,000 points (it took a few seconds to draw).

On Windows, if you put too many maps in the Maps folder, you can't see all of them in the menu. Go to the Map List window. You can double click on the map there and it will bring up a new window with that map.

Maps from the CD-ROM we produced must be copied from the CD-ROM to the MAPS directory before they can be used with WinAPRS.

Please note that if you put maps in the folder while MacAPRS / WinAPRS is running, you have to quit and restart before it will recognize the new maps.

NOTE: The ability to directly read DOS-APRS maps is new for MacAPRS as of Version 2.2.0.

You can hold down the option key (Mac) then click and drag the mouse, the area selected will become the new map zoom area. For Windows, use the right mouse button.

The format for the map file is explained in a separate document, please refer to Map File Format Documentation

Some of the maps for Macintosh on the TAPR FTP site are in Macintosh "sit.hqx" format. This is similar to ZIP format for PCs, but of course not compatible. We have found a PC program called SITEX10.EXE that allows decompression of these files on PCs. It can be found at:

Mac/WinAPRS Map CD-ROM We originally produced a CD-ROM full of maps for use with Mac/WinAPRS, this CD-ROM contains over 600 megabytes of Maps. It contains maps of several different resolutions including very high detail street level maps for most of the major metropolitan areas.

This CD-ROM is now out of production but there are many copies of it out there. We will produce CD-ROMs in the future as needed.

The major areas of maps include

This CD-ROM is no longer available, however 500 of them were made and you can probably find one to borrow. Most of these maps are on the WinAPRS FTP site.

Click here to see the Map Outline areas. The red boxes indicate hi-res street level maps, the blue boxes indicate regional maps.

Map Windows

Both versions support many map windows open at the same time. On startup, one map window is opened and the first map in the map folder is used. To create additional maps, use the "NEW MAP WINDOW" command under the "Windows" menu. Then use the "MAP" menu to select which map to use. You can have as many maps open as you have memory to handle. When you run out of memory, you will get an warning and it won't open the map. You can also go to the map list window and double click on the name of a map file, it will bring up a new window with that map.

You can select multiple maps into the same window. Bring up a map window with one map, then go to the MAPS menu and select another map with the CONTROL KEY held down. It will merge the two maps together in memory (not on disk). You can combine maps up until you run out of memory or 256 maps, whichever comes first.

Holding the SHIFT key down, forces it to create a NEW map window.

Selecting an item from the MAPS menu

Map movement

In both versions, you can click on a location in the map and then cause it to zoom-in or zoom-out. Use page-up and page-down or the '+' and '-' keys. You can at anytime go back to the default magnification (Home View) by hitting the 'Home' key or the 'h' key. Once you have zoomed in on a map, you can use left, right, up, and down arrows to move around within the map. It does NOT automatically switch to another map when you reach the edge of the current map.

Map Boundaries

Display Map Boundaries command will show the outline of all of the maps on the current map window. This will show you the bounding rectangles of each of the maps. You can also do this by hitting the 'B' key.

A note when using dos maps. Many of the dos maps will not show up at first when you display the map boundaries, this is because the Mac/WinAPRS maps have a 256 byte header that has ALL of the information needed. The DOS maps have to be read entirely in before that is known. Some DOS maps have enough information in the first few lines so that this information can be displayed, many do not.When you open any dos Map (by selecting it from the Map Menu or double clicking from the map list), the boundary information is then saved for future reference.

Map Zooming

You can make MacAPRS / WinAPRS automatically bring up the next higher detail map by double clicking on a point. For MacAPRS, hold down the option key when double clicking. For WinAPRS, double click with the RIGHT mouse button.

Map Window Buttons

There are several buttons on the right hand side of the map window, these buttons do different things to the map. The buttons can be disabled entirely in the GENERAL DISPLAY OPTIONS dialog. In version 2.2.2/3.2.2, these buttons were changed to ICONs, they still do the same thing.

Precision Mapping Support

For a LONG LONG time, users have been asking, "Can you use Street Atlas Maps", "How can I get better maps of my area?", well the solution is now here.

Precision Mapping Street 3.0 by Chicago Map Corporation is a CD-ROM based mapping system that is just as good or better than any other street mapping product on the market. The MAIN difference is that the people at Chicago Map Corporation understand that there are developers that need to interface to their products (some of the other map companies don't want to be bothered). They have developed a method whereby I can access the maps directly as part of WinAPRS.

This integration allows WinAPRS to still behave EXACTLY like it normally does with mouse clicking, zooming, displaying overlays, etc. Everything works the same, but the maps are very high detail, very nicely drawn and most important, the detail is dynamic.

In order to use the Precision Mapping option you must install their mapping library that is supplied with WinAPRS.

Installing Precision Mapping OCX

Precision Mapping OCX (C) by Chicago Mapping Corp

Using Precision Mapping

Once the OCX is installed, simply go to the Windows Menu and do NEW WINDOW PM. This will open up a precision mapping window. Note, you can have MULTIPLE PM map windows open at the same time.

Now go to the OPT button on the lower right of the window, this will allow you to set the DRIVE LETTER for your CD-ROM. Yes, you can copy data to your hard disk on a state by state basis. I will be adding an automatic feature to assist with this function.

Precision Mapping DOES NOT have to be running and in fact does NOT even need to be installed on your hard disk. Just install the OCX and have the CD-ROM in the drive and it works. It does NOT require both programs, it is all done WITHIN WinAPRS.

It has been our experience that Windows95 release 2 is more stable than release 1 for use with Precision Mapping. If you have problems with running out of memory while using this option, check to see which version of Windows 95 you are running.

If you are using a laptop that does not have a CD-ROM you may want to copy some of the Precision Mapping data to your hard drive, here is how to do it

There is a readme or help file someplace that translates the STATE names into the appropriate FIPS code which is a number, the states are stored in STATES by that name, copy over the ones you want.

Point your CD-ROM drive in WinAPRS PM OPTIONS to the C drive (or drive where you have copied the data)

The file names for the states are as follows (The numbers are FIPS codes)

01.ZPX Alabama 04.ZPX Arizona 05.ZPX Arkansas 06.ZPX California
08.ZPX Colorado 09.ZPX Connecticut 10.ZPX Delaware 11.ZPX District of Columbia
12.ZPX Florida 13.ZPX Georgia 15.ZPX ?????????? 16.ZPX Idaho
17.ZPX Illinois 18.ZPX Indiana 19.ZPX Iowa 20.ZPX Kansas
21.ZPX Kentucky 22.ZPX Louisiana 23.ZPX Maine 24.ZPX Maryland
25.ZPX Massachusetts 26.ZPX Michigan 27.ZPX Minnesota 28.ZPX Mississippi
29.ZPX Missouri 30.ZPX Montana 31.ZPX Nebraska 32.ZPX Nevada
33.ZPX New Hampshire 34.ZPX New Jersey 35.ZPX New Mexico 36.ZPX New York
37.ZPX North Carolina 38.ZPX North Dakota 39.ZPX Ohio 40.ZPX Oklahoma
41.ZPX Oregon 42.ZPX Pennsylvania 44.ZPX Rhode Island 45.ZPX South Carolina
46.ZPX South Dakota 47.ZPX Tennessee 48.ZPX Texas 49.ZPX Utah
50.ZPX Vermont 51.ZPX Virginia 53.ZPX Washington 54.ZPX West Virginia
55.ZPX Wisconsin 56.ZPX Wyoming

Installing PrecIsion Mapping on WindowsNT

The following was provided by Jerry, KB4OAM
  1. Install PM 3.0/3.5 per the CD instructions
  2. Create a new \DATA2 folder and a \STATES folder
  3. Copy the desired 'state' files off the \STATES folder on the CD to the \STATES folder on the hard drive (12.zpx for Florida)
  4. Download the PMAP30.OCX file from Mark's Rutgers site, and unzip it (using the -d option)
  5. Edit the PMAPOCX.BAT file, to change all '\windows\' calls to '\winnt\'
  6. Find a copy of MFCANS32.DLL (from a Win95 machine) and copy it to the \winnt\system\ directory
  7. Run the PMAPOCX.BAT file (it should complete with a 'success' message)
  8. Start WinAPRS, and under the 'Windows' pull-down, select 'New Map Prec Map'
  9. Click on the OPT box, and enter the letter of the hard drive where you earlier created the \states\ folder.


In order to get Precision Mapping to automatically come up on a desired location, create a file called HOME.TXT. Place this file in the same directory as the WinAPRS exe file.
#Home.txt must be formatted EXACTLY like this
# ONE tab or space between the key and the argument
# Radius is in arc seconds
LAT 40.3447416667
LON -74.4923555556
The PrecIsion Mapping map window should open up to this view. To convert that lat lon values, value = degrees + (minutes / 60) + (seconds / 3600) or if you have decimal minutes just value = degrees + (minutes / 60). The RAD value is RADius. This is in arc seconds but a value of 3 is a good place to start.

The HOME key still takes you back to the full view

CONTROL-Home will now take you to this location

Using Images for Maps

Mac/WinAPRS now supports GeoTIFF files. GeoTiff is a TIFF image with geo-referencing information added. WinAPRS has been tested with a small sample of GeoTiff files. The ones referenced in this document work. I have found some that do not work yet.

These features will be enhanced to include GIF and BMP files and will allow you to do your own calibration of images.

(please note that these images were done with old log files)

This is a satellite image of Chicago IL. It is a calibrated GEOTIFF file.

This is a full image of a Chicago DRG (Digital Raster Graphic) file.
The image width =7158, image Height = 5520, which means it occupies 39 megs of RAM just to view.

This is a zoomed-in section of the above map

Places to get image map files

How to use non-GeoTiff images

If you have an image and it does not already have the Geo-Reference information, you can add it.

If we have an image "Midwest.gif", place it in the IMAGES directory, then create a file called "Midwest.GEO" and place it in IMAGES as well. The .GEO file has the following format

	FILENAME	Midwest.gif
	#		x		y		lon		lat
	TIEPOINT	51		98		-100.286714	44.382867
	TIEPOINT	678		450		-87.530247	38.037397
The fields must be separated by tabs, not spaces
The first line refers to which image it is for, this is for future use.
Any line starting with '#' is a comment
You have to have 2 "TIEPOINTs", these associate a lon/lat with any x/y of the image. The X and Y are in pixels of the IMAGE, the LON and LAT are that LON/LAT values of the POINT specified by X,Y. The more accurate that you have this, the better the image map will work. The second point MUST be to the right and below the first point. It is best to have the first point as close to the top left as possible and the second point as close to the bottom right as possible.

NOTE: The images MUST be ORTHOGONAL, this means that the map lines up square with lat/lon.

URL access

In a similar method, internet URLs can be used to obtain images automatically

	# This url is from  KCCI-TV out of Des Moines, Iowa
	#	x	y	lon	lat
	Tiepoint	85	46	-96.5949388889	43.4924277778
	Tiepoint	490	376	-91.4472250000	40.3717138889
These URL files must be placed in the IMAGES folder. They can then be accessed from the WINDOWS / INTELLICAST menu.

Map Server Support

There are several web servers that display map images (gif files) on request. These images are fairly detailed and can be generated for almost any range and area. The two that are currently supported are: To access these maps, go to any station list, click on a station and click the approriate button at the top of the screen.

The buttons are:

These buttons work on the most recent station clicked on. They do NOT work on multiple stations if more than one is selected. There will be more of these buttons as time goes on.

List Windows

There are many different types of list windows in MacAPRS / WinAPRS. Each of the windows supplies a list of information organized in a different manner. Some of the information is constant such as the current list of maps. Most of the information is dynamic and will change as stations appear, etc. Message List: MacAPRS / WinAPRS recognizes standard APRS messages. This window shows all of the messages that have been seen since the program started. Messages TO you will be shown in RED. Messages FROM you will be shown in BLUE until they are ACKnowledged, then they will be shown in GREEN. Bulletins will be shown in DARK BLUE. Station ID's will be shown in light BLUE. Other messages will be shown in BLACK. Selecting a message and typing 'R' will REPLY to that message, already filling in the destination call sign. You can click on the column headers and the messages will then be sorted by that column.

When the message buffer is full, it will delete the FIRST HALF of the messages EXCEPT for any messages that are actually to you. It will continue to do this as every time the message buffer fills up. In other words, you can go away for the weekend (or a whole week) and come back and ALL of the messages that were sent to YOU will still be there, all of the recent messages will still be there. You don't lose anything important and you don't have to remember to clear the message list.

Map List: The Map list is a list of all of the currently available maps: this is NOT to be confused with "MAPLIST.DAT" from DOS-APRS. This list shows the name of the map file, the name of the map, the number of points, the number of labels, the creator and the type (Mac/Win or DOS). For DOS-APRS maps, the number of points and the number of labels is NOT available unless you read the entire map in and count them. Therefore this information is not available in the beginning. As soon as you use a particular map, that information is updated in the map list window so the contents of the window will change. While talking to several of the beta testers of WinAPRS, I have mentioned the "Map List". This refers to THIS window, NOT the menu list.

You can double click or hit the return / enter key and a new map window with the selected map will be created. Remember, you can have as many maps open as you have memory to handle.

Station List: This window shows all of the stations seen since the program started. The list includes the ICON of the station, a second ICON if the station has reported more than one type, i.e. QTH and WEATHER, call sign, number of packets, and station ID if any. While in this window, you can Double Click on a station to bring up the Station Info Window for that station. You can also use the up-down arrow keys and then hit RETURN or ENTER to bring up a Station Info Window. Page-Up and Page-Down work also. Note: If the internal buffers overflow, the packet list will reset back to zero. Therefore, this window might say that you have received a large number of packets from a station and not show any. Don't let this alarm you.

History List: The history list shows ALL of the packets received. This can get to be a very long list. When it fills up, it dumps the buffer and starts over.

Weather List: This window shows data from Weather stations and includes station type, call, time, temperature, rain fall, pressure, wind speed and direction, and weather alarms.

Flagged Station List: is a list of stations that you have "flagged". You can flag a station by going to the Station List window, selecting a station, and hitting the 'F' key. This allows you to keep track of stations that you are interested in without having to scroll through the entire list.

The FLAGGED concept is so that you can have a list of "STATIONS OF INTEREST". For example, you might be running an event, other hams are interested in the event so you leave it on the normal APRS frequency, however, you, running the event want to be able to ignore the other stations on the map, in your list, etc. Flag these stations, bring up the FLAGGED list and set DISPLAY FLAGGED ONLY and all of the others "disappear" They are still there and are in the other lists but are out of your way.

When List: Displays a window showing when the stations in the Station List were heard.

Tracked Station List: Shows the moving stations that are being tracked.

RDF List: Shows a list of stations reporting Radio Direction Finding information

Telemetry List: The APRS protocol defines an ability to have telemetry data transmitted from something like a balloon. This window will display that information if any is available.

Internal State: This window shows the values of important settings inside the program. This is different from the settings dialog boxes because they can be misleading at times. This window allows you to look at all of the important internals in one place and will allow us to better assist users in case of problems.

Memory Usage: For diagnostics mainly, to help determine when and where memory leaks are occurring, not very useful for general use.

Unproto Path: This window shows a list of all of the stations showing the path that was used for their data to get to you. This is useful in looking at which digis get used most and is the first step in supporting automatic path selection for responding back to other stations. Column 1 shows the station ID (call sign), station 2 is a "Y" if the station was heard direct, the rest of the columns are the digis, starting with the station callsign in the order they were seen. This window can be sorted by any column by clicking on the heading for that column. Stations that were heard direct are displayed in green.

Airport List: If you have the file "Airport.dat" or "" in you DATA directory, then you can display most of the airports in the world. Select AIRPORTS under the DISPLAY menu, this will draw all of the air ports in the list on the current map. This is a temporary display only and the airports will disappear the next time the map is redrawn. If you hold down the option key for Mac or the Control key for Windows, it will display the airport 3 letter code as well.

You can look at the entire list by selecting AIRPORT LIST under the LISTS menu. This will display the entire list showing the airport code, city, lat / lon and elevation. The elevation data is not present for all of the airports but most of them. You can sort the list by clicking on any of the column headings. This can be interesting when you do a display airports because they will be displayed on the map in the same order they appear in the list. i.e. sort by elevation then do a display for the entire USA map.

If you double click on an airport in this list, you will be switched to the best map currently open that contains that airport and shown where on that map the airport is. If no map contains the airport, it will beep.

The airport data file can be found on the CD-ROM that we produced or on the FTP site, it must be placed in the DATA directory and MUST be named "AIRPORTS.DAT" for Windows and "AIRPORTS.DATA" for Mac.


There are several different logging options. All are turned on and off from the LOGGING menu.

Menu Commands

File Menu Edit Menu Settings Menu Logging Menu Map Menu Display Menu

Station Alarms

There are many times when you want to be notified about the movements of a moving station. For example, when it is within 5 miles of your location, 1 mile of your location, or maybe every time it moves.

For example, if you set the ALARM flag, Mac/WinAPRS will beep every time a packet is heard from that station. WARNING flag will beep if a packet is heard from the station within the WARNING radius set in APRS SETTINGS. Danger will beep if the station is within the DANGER radius.

Refer to Key Board Shortcuts (station list window) shortcuts and to Special Stations

Terminal Window

Under the "Windows" menu, select the terminal window command. This will bring up a terminal window that will allow you to talk directly to your TNC or other port. It will connect to whichever port you have open. If you do not have any port open, it will not let you open the terminal window. During the time that the terminal window is open, APRS data STILL gets processed. If the Terminal Window is the FRONT MOST WINDOW, then WinAPRS will NOT output any commands or strings to the TNC. If the terminal window is not the currently active window, then WinAPRS will output as normal. At ALL times, the INPUT from the port is still processed normally by WinAPRS so you do not lose any data.


APRS users can send one line messages to other APRS users. These messages are then acked from the other station. The messages can viewed in the MESSAGE LIST. Messages to you are red, messages from you start out blue and turn green when they are acked.

A message is sent out normally 4 times or until it is acked. The number of times is settable in one of the settings dialogs (default = 4)

However, after it has been sent 4 times, if I see a packet FROM the station that the message is to, it will automatically go out again.

Scenario. I have an occasional band opening to a station that I like to talk to. I am keyboarding away to this station and the band opening dies. I have 5 or 6 messages queued up waiting to go to him. 24 hours later, the band opening opens back up for one minute and I see one packet from him, poof, the first message goes out, his ack comes back, the second message goes out, his ack comes back, bang bang bang, all of the messages go out real quick during the band opening. We have seen this happen several times. It could also happen if the person was mobile and he came within ear shot of a distant Igate.

Bulletins and Announcements

Messages, Bulletins, and Announcements can be re-queued by CLEARING them in the MESSAGE window. They can also be canceled by deleting them

You CLEAR messages by selecting the message and hitting 'X' or '\' or the CLEAR key on a Macintosh.

To DELETE a message, select it and hit DELETE or BACKSPACE.

Starting with version 2.2.2 (Win)/ 3.2.2 (Mac) message delivery is SEQUENTIAL instead of PARALLEL. In the message list there is an ACK column, this will be blank except for messages FROM YOU. Q means the message is QUEUED, A means its been ACKED, and QB, means QUEUED and BLOCKED, When the PREVIOUS message to THAT station gets acked, the NEXT message gets UN-BLOCKED and will go out. This does work and works well. If you have a good link, the messages will go through very fast

Refer to Key Board Shortcuts page for all of the options in the message window.

APRS Objects

You can add an object by clicking anywhere on a map, then selecting the "edit/add object" command from the EDIT menu. Fill out the information. You can change the location by clicking on the object, then "edit/add object" it again, OR, you can hold down the Command/Alt key and drag it to the new location.

Creating: When you create an object, if you want it to be transmitted out so others see it, make sure that the OBJECT setting in the "Position Rate Settings" "Object reporting rate" dialog box is something other than 0 (the default) for the band you desire. A good recommended value is 30 minutes or higher. You also need to make the Object active by checking the "Object active" box and the "VHF" or "HF" box in the "edit/add object" dialog box.

Moving: To move an object on the screen, hold down the Command Key (Mac) / Alt Key (Windows) and click on the station, you can then drag it to a new location. If someone else moves the object your copy will become inactive and you will need to re-activate if you want to move it again and have it transmitted. To re-activate it you must click on the object once and the edit/add object from the edit menu again and set the HF/VHF and Active flags. The idea here is that only one station can really send the location of a given object at a time.

Removing: To delete an object, go to the station list window, then select the object to be deleted and hit the delete key or backspace key(Windows).

Additional notes: The objects are uniquely identified by the Callsign field in the edit/add object menu. If you use the same callsign name to try to create a new object you will not get a warning. The old object will be deleted and the new one will appear. This is useful if you need to relocate an object since you do not need to delete the old one.

Fancy symbols for objects can be selected in the edit/add objects menu STATION TYPE field. To view the possable symbols use the LIST -> SYMBOLS LIST function or just type random characters in this field till you find something you like. (- minus sign is a home QTH).

HSP Support

HSP (Hardware Single Port) was designed to solve the problem of only having one serial port and the need for both TNC and GPS input. This is done with a special cable that has a simple transistor switching circuit. The DTR (Data Terminal Ready) line from the computer is used to switch this circuit allow for input from two different devices. It only switches the data into the computer, not out of the computer.

HSP is supported on the VHF TNC input and the HF TNC ports only. To enable this, go to the Serial Port dialog box and set the appropriate check box. HSP is turned on (switched) for 4 seconds of each minute. This has been tested with the PacComm HSP cable.

Please note that the PacComm HSP cable needs +5v on Pin 6, the Handi-packet does not provide this. You might need to install a jumper between pin 6 and pin 8 of the DB9 on the TNC. Please refer to the schematics or customer support of your TNC manufacturer.

HSP does NOT support weather input.

The Mac version does not support HSP and is not likely to. To get around this problem use a TNC with a GPS input such as the Paccomm Pico-Packet.

Audio Alarms (sound files)

When various events happen, audio alarms are played to announce that fact. These alarms can be turned off under settings. For MacAPRS, these sounds are stored as 'SND ' resources within the file, for WinAPRS, they are external .WAV files. These files MUST be in a directory called SOUNDS which MUST be in the same directory as WinAPRS.exe

Mouse Down shortcuts

These "modifiers" affect the operation of mouse down, mainly in the map window. By holding down the specified key, you can invoke many other functions. For most of these operations, the key must be held down the entire time.

MAP Window

List Windows

Function Key Shortcuts

Function keys work for Mac as well starting with version 3.2.2

Keyboard shortcuts

MAP Window

List Windows

Station List Window

Message List Window

Weather Chart


On the Mac you can print any and all windows. The print command applies to the current window. The map windows will be resized to fit the paper of the currently selected printer so they should never take up more than one page on the output. Also the print code has been written so that it works well with pen plotters and will take proper advantage of the large print area of a large pen plotter.

WinAPRS can print the list windows, map windows do not print at this time.

Map Labels List

A feature to help locate roads on the maps has been implemented. Under LIST menu select MAP LABELS LIST


Find can be a VERY useful tool, with it you can find the location of a zip code, of an airport, of an existing station or of any ham listed in a call book database.

In the map window you can search for these items

In the station lists you can search for call signs, in the airport list you can search for a city name, in the history list you can search for any text.

Map Display Options

Under the DISPLAY menu is the Map Display Options. This allows you to set many options for how maps display including: These options can be applied to the current map, all maps, or set as default.

CD-ROM call sign database support

MacAPRS / WinAPRS can take advantage of call sign databases on CD-ROM. Under settings menu, select CALLBOOK, there is a pop-up menu to select which CD-ROM database you want to use. When selected, this automatically fills in the paths for the files. If you have copied items to your hard disk you can manually change these paths. For Windows, you must set the drive letter for your CD-ROM drive.

The following CD-ROMs are supported:

Some of the CD-ROMs have to have an index created in order to use them. To create the database, go to the CALLBOOK DATABASE under SETTINGS menu. Select the desired database from the popup menu, at the bottom of the dialog box is a button that says MAKE: CallSign index. Select this button and it will create the index.

PLEASE NOTE: This can take a while and generates an index that is typically 3 megabytes. For WinAPRS this cannot be aborted, for MacAPRS, Command-Period will abort it. For WinAPRS with a 4X CD-ROM drive on a 100 megahertz Pentium it took about 4 minutes each to create the QRZ and SAMS index files.

Each time you get a new CD-ROM, simply throw away the old index file and re-create it. You do not have to download it off of the internet. The index files are compatible between Mac and Windows, so if you create the database on one machine, you can copy it to another of the other type.

The index file is automatically created in the DATA folder inside of your WinAPRS folder. For the Buckmaster CD-ROM, the index is already on the CD-ROM and is left there. Below is a table for which databases need indexes

Callbook Database Indexes
CD-ROM Index required MacAPRS WinAPRS comment
Buckmaster No N/A N/A Included on CD-ROM
QRZ Yes Tested Tested About 3.8 meg
SAMS Yes Tested Tested About 3.8 meg
FCC Database Yes Yes Yes -

Installing the new (2000) FCC database

Sometime in 1999 the FCC changed the format of the database, below are the instructions to download the new database and make it work with WinAPS/MacAPRS/X-APRS.

The FCC database currently DOES work on X-APRS, but you need to create the index on another platform (Mac or Windows). Check our FTP server or email to request the index.


Probably the biggest single confusion about APRS is the UNPROTO path. This is the path that the TNC is set to use for unconnected packets. (All APRS communications is via unconnected packets known as UI frames). There is a window that shows the paths that each station uses (under LIST WINDOWS). This can be very helpful to see what others in your area are using.

There are several guidelines when setting your unproto path.

  1. NEVER use 3 of the same thing such as WIDE,WIDE,WIDE. This will cause TREMENDOUS amounts of excess re-transmission of packets. In some cases enough to cripple a network.

  2. Including a "GATE" in your path will allow your packets to GATEWAY from VHF to HF or vise-versa. Do NOT put more than one GATE in your path.

  3. RELAY should be used if you are new station, but after you figure out which path to use, then discontinue using RELAY at all.

  4. RELAY should NEVER be anywhere EXCEPT the first item in the proto path.

  5. NEVER use RELAY after a WIDE.

  6. In a given area, there should not be more than 2 digis with an alias of RELAY. More than that can cause a given packet for a new user or mobile user to be repeated 27 times. If you can hear 2 digis with an alias of RELAY, DO NOT set yours to RELAY.

  7. In a given area, there should not be more than 2 digis with an alias of WIDE, if you can hear more than one WIDE, DON'T set your alias to WIDE.

  8. RELAY,WIDE,WIDE should NEVER be used by a home station, however it is a good choice for a MOBILE station.

Discussion on unproto paths

This section is meant to familiarize you with the concepts of APRS operations so that you can get running with maximum efficiency and minimum disruption to other stations in the network. The information in this section applies to all versions of APRS.

Since APRS stations do not "connect" to each other as in a typical packet QSO, but rely on "unconnected" packets, the only way to get your data to others beyond your station's reach is through the use of digipeaters. Users of APRS have standardized on a scheme for digipeating that requires some explanation.

Just as it is advantageous to have a packet node or a repeater located in a high spot with great coverage, so it is with digipeaters. In APRS terminology, such a wide-coverage digi is called a WIDE. In any given area, there should only be one WIDE, and that station should be able to work the adjacent WIDEs and should operate 24 hours a day. Don't be an "ego-WIDE"; that is, setting yourself up as a WIDE when you cannot provide the functionality of a true wide or are in an area already served by a proper WIDE. You will only cause problems on the network and earn the wrath of those whose traffic you are affecting.

Of course, we cannot expect every station in a given area (mobiles especially) to be able to work a WIDE (especially if they are on the move), so to assist those stations to make a WIDE, there are RELAY stations. A RELAY station can be any station that can work one or more WIDEs reliably. There should be only one RELAY in a given area that can work a given WIDE; the same "ego-WIDE" caution applies here. Of course, if two (or more) stations overlap in coverage slightly but primarily cover differing areas, the benefits of covering the extra area might outweigh the extra traffic and collisions on frequency. This is where those Ham "experimenter" skills come into play. Remember, when all is said and done, we're here to innovate and experiment while (hopefully) having fun. Don't get too obsessive or relaxed with any of the guidelines herein.

So now, as a user, needing to choose a path to digi your packets through, what should you use? Initially, set your UNPROTO path to RELAY (see your program docs for info on how to do this). Once you see some stations appear on your map, see who you can hear directly using the DIGI or PROTOPATH list. Can you hear a WIDE directly? If so, change your UNPROTO path to WIDE (or WIDE,WIDE if you want to go two hops). If not, and you can work a RELAY directly, try RELAY,WIDE (or RELAY,WIDE,WIDE).

You may also see a GATE station. GATEs pass traffic from HF nets to VHF nets. GATEs should never be used from VHF to HF - this will have real bad implications for the HF net (perhaps even crippling the entire net). The 300 baud traffic of HF should pose no problem on the VHF 1200 baud net, but the reverse is certainly not true.


Alternate Paths for VHF and HF

As explained in the section above, you have a PATH setting for unconnected packets. This path is normally something like "APRSW via RELAY,WIDE". This path is set in the TNC settings dialog box in unser the SETTINGS menu. In order to change the path, the TNC has to be taken out of CONVERSE mode, sent the new command, then put back in CONVERSE mode. This is why the changing of paths was not implemented in earlier versions. When you make a change, it stays in affect till you change it back. If you close the TNC port and reopen, or restart WinAPRS, it will go back to the value in the TNC settings dialog box.

To use this function, you need a file called "ALTPATHS.TXT", this is a simple text file as follows

On startup, WinAPRS reads this file and creates 2 sub-menus under SETTINGS, one for VHF and one for the HF port. There is also an "OTHER" option that allows you to type in a path. The "APRSW VIA" is inserted automatically.

You can add as many options to this text file as you need to.

Setting up a Gateway

It is possible to set up a station that has radios on both VHF and HF and have it "gate" packets between the two. Packets with "GATE" in their path will then be passed on to the other band.

The purpose of a HF to VHF gateways is to permit VHF local area APRS nets to see mobile stations on HF nets.

VHF stations in general should NOT gate onto HF, but HF stations should gate onto VHF, this is because of the slower bandwidth of HF. Of course in some situations, gating onto HF may be important.

Several TNCs such as the AEA DSP-2232 and the KAM Plus have this ability built into the TNC.

A gateway gates both directions, if someone on VHF has GATE in their path, your station will GATE them to HF, if someone on HF has GATE in their path, your station will GATE them to VHF. If you set your station up as a gateway you are on BOTH HF and VHF, YOU do not need to have GATE in your path at all.

Overlay Files

There are many times when you need a graphical display of a large number of stationary objects. These would be items that are too numerous to transmit and are intended for local references. Examples are list of digi-peaters, list of repeaters, list of airplane crash sites for Search And Rescue. Mac/WinAPRS supports POS files. This is the same format as dos *.POS files. To use them goto FILE menu OPEN command. Select any file with a a POS extension. This loads the file into memory, then type "O" for Overlay on any map window and the entire list of items will be displayed.

You can create an OVERLAYS folder and place all overlay files in this directory. The items will be added to a pop-up menu in the DISPLAY menu for quick access to all of the files that you have in this folder.

Internet Operations

Mac/WinAPRS supports a variety of Internet operations. In no way is Internet access required, it is just used to enhance the overall APRS community.

Types of operations

Each of these are discussed below, please read over and understand each of the operations before trying to implement any of them on your station.

TCP/IP Connections

There are several versions of APRS servers (reflectors) on the internet, these systems listen to a TNC and re-broadcast the information from the TNC to anyone who has connected in via TELNET protocol. This allows people to see APRS information from other parts of the country. Steve Dimse has written APRSserve which is the most sophisticated of these servers.

To connect to these servers, you have to be connected to the internet, either directly or via dialup (PPP or SLIP). Also you must have a file called "APRSserv.txt", this contains the names and port numbers for the various APRS reflectors. Of course you MUST also have TCP/IP installed and configured. If you have internet access and can run Netscape or other Web browser, then this part is already done.

To open the connection, simply select the server you want to connect to from the TCP/IP connections sub menu under SETTINGS menu. Then sit back and watch, stations counts greater than 700 are common.

Mac/WinARS can also operate as an APRS server, it allows connections on port 14439 or port 23. When you connect you get a dump of the current station list from the server.

TCP/IP to RF Gateways (IGate)

With the introduction of Internet to the APRS picture, the next logical step was taking data from the internet back out over RF. Of course there are several problems in doing this, the first of which is legal. Data MUST be originated by a licensed ham in order to be transmitted over the air. This was taken care of in this implementation.

Mac/WinAPRS, if attached to both a TNC and the internet can in addition to feeding data from RF to the internet relay messages from the internet back out to RF. The is done by turning on the 3rd Party Message Forwarding option under TCP Connections in the SETTINGS menu.

With 3rd party messaging enabled, whenever a message comes in, it is inspected for several things, if the message meets these criteria

If a message passes all of these tests, it is formatted as 3rd party APRS traffic and sent out over the air. Ideally the intended station would then hear this message and send out an ACK.

The security of the APRSserve requires that we can verify that the people feeding data are valid hams. This is a FCC requirement and we were very careful about the implementation. If you are not registered, then APRSserve cannot accept the data that you feed. It will accept your own data and send it out to the other users on the internet. However it modifies your path so that other IGates (Internet to RF gateways) can recognize that the data has not been verified and thus NOT send it back to RF

We apologize about this, we really don't like having to require registration for this but to protect us from some non-ham doing malicious things over the air, we had to.

Possible problems: If you are running 2 different stations, one on TCP and one on RF, they MUST have different SSIDs for the 2 stations.

In order for an IGate to send a message to a station on it has to hear you as local, for Mac/WinAPRS that is defined as NOT through a GATE and through 3 or less hops.

On a station operating as an IGATE, you can bring up the PROTO PATH LIST and see if it thinks you are local. If it does NOT, it will not forward to you. It also has to have heard you on RF. If it has only heard you through TCP it will not gate to you either.

There is an IGATE list that shows all stations that are acting as IGates, additionally on any map window, typing "I" will display a red circle around all of the IGates, thus helping to locate IGate stations for message traffic.

Special Stations

There are several settings for a station seen on the air that you may want to always be set. Normally to set these options for a given station, you must wait to see it first, then go to the station list and manually set the flag. These include warning and alarm flags.

For many people operating IGates, there may be one or more stations that you always want to have IGated to the local VHF frequency, maybe someone that travels with a tracker box a lot.

A feature to allow setting of options for a station has been added. To do this create a text file called "Stations.txt", place the call signs, one on each line, they MUST be upper case and they MUST include the SSID for the station.

Example There is no list window to show these stations and there only indicator is in the TCP server status window, there is a entry that tells you the number of special stations. There is no limit to the number of entries in this file. Please be sure to limit the number of IGATES to just a few so that you do not cluter the local RF network.

IGate EMail operations

Note: This may not be enabled in the released version but should be available as a service

The IGate can also forward specialty formatted APRS messages to the internet as EMail.

Send a message to EMAIL, the first part of the message (up to the first space) is the email address, the rest of it is the content

Details The format of the email will be

Weather Options

There are several features of Mac/WinAPRS boundaries tailored to weather watching, these include:

Weather Station Input

MacAPRS and WinAPRS support several weather stations. Currently supported units are:
  2. Peet Bros Ultimeter-II
  3. Peet Bros U-2000
  4. Peet Bros 500
  5. Heathkit 5001
  6. Davis
  7. Radio Shack WX-200
  8. Texas Wx Station
  9. Maximum WeatherMAX
  10. Capricorn II
  11. Davis Vantage Pro -
  12. Weather File input Weather Display -
When weather data comes in from any of the supported units it is stored internally and available for local display. You can display the last 24 hours in the "24 Hour Weather Chart". The current data is then available to output over the air either manually (by selecting the TRANSMIT WEATHER menu) or automatically from the weather options dialog box.

In order for Mac/WinAPRS to transmit the weather, the data MUST be less than 90 minutes old. For manual stations, this means that you have to have set it from the dialog box within the last 90 minutes. For automatic input, a valid packet must have come in within the last 90 minutes. I know, if it's a weather station connected to your computer it's always coming in, well not quite. I had a case where the cable from the weather station got knocked out and I didn't notice it. A day went by before I realized it and for that entire 24 hours I was transmitting the same temperature as if it was current. By making all weather input to be required to be not less than 90 minutes old, it assures other stations that if they see data from Mac/WinAPRS, it IS current. For those situations where more up-to-date weather data is required, the weather display mode (described below) shows you how old the actual data is.

Barometric Pressure Offset

Some weather units output the ACTUAL barometric pressure, but the pressure reported and understood is the ADJUSTED barometric pressure. The Peet Brothers Weather Station sends the ACTUAL pressure. If you are close to sea level, this can be ignored, but if you live in higher elevations, you will need to set the offset.

The way to figure out this setting is to observe what the Peet Brothers SAYS the pressure is and to listen to the Weather Channel or other weather source and find out what the ACTUAL pressure is.. NOTE: This must be in MILIBARS.

Take the ACTUAL pressure, subtract the REPORTED pressure, multiply by 10, and save that number. The reason for multiplying by 10 is that the value is saved in 10ths for accuracy.

Go to the Weather Settings dialog box under the SETTINGS menu. Find the entry labeled "Press Offset (mb)". Enter the value calculated above into this field.

The Ultimeter II and U-2000 are available from :

The weather station display looks like this:

Weather chart

The 24 hour weather chart shows temperature, wind, rain fall etc. for the last 24 hours. This data can be cleared by opening up the weather chart and typing the following:

National Weather Service Watches and Warnings

APRS has become a very good tool for weather reporting to the National Weather Service, The NWS office in Mt. Holly, NJ in particular requested the ability to use APRS to help get the word out to Skywarn personnel about activations, watches, and warningspersonnelThese are almost always done on a county-by-county basis. A feature was added to Mac/WinAPRS to display which counties have Skywarn activation, Watches, or Warnings activated. There are 2 different options for obtaining the county outlines required for the NWS warnings to work. County Map Files and NWS Shape files


Mac/WinAPRS can initiate a message sent to NWS-SKYWN, and listing the counties that are activated, any station that has list of counties in the COUNTIES directory will then show that county hi-lighted on the maps. Yellow means Skywarn activation, orange means Watch and red means Warning. All activations, warnings and watches have an expiration time on them. The color hi-lighting of the counties will automatically disappear when that time has passed. The transmitting station can also deactivate a county which will cancel the current status immediately.

Since the National Weather Service always issues weather bulletins in LOCAL time, these warnings are based on LOCAL time. It is therefore important that you have your clock set correctly to local time and the UTC offset set to make the ZULU time work properly.

Backwards compatible

Please note that this is NOT a change in the protocol, simply a message addressed to a specific address similar to bulletins. Older versions and DOS versions will be able to review these messages in the message list

Sending warnings, etc.

The ability to initiate any of these levels of activation is going to be restricted to the NWS office and trained Skywarn personnel, the main reason for this restriction is that the method for sending them out has been made so easy, that we do not want people to do it by accident. If you want the ability to initiate these messages, please contact the authors (Mark Sproul) The intent will be that anyone who is active in Skywarn and therefore a trained Skywarn operator can have this ability to transmit these warnings, but we do not want hundreds of users sending out warning activations by accident or just to see what it does.


Stations operating as an IGate can be set up to auto-forward NWS warnings and watches from the internet to local VHF. A file called COUNTIES.TXT can be placed in the same directory as WinAPRS.EXE, this file contains the county names, one per line exactly as they appear in the NWS county list (i.e. NJ_MIDDLE). If a NWS warning/watch/etc comes in from TCP/IP address to one of those counties, it is re-transmitted over the LOCAL VHF tnc.

Sample COUNTIES.TXT file


The default is to relay NWS messages from any station, however, if you create a file NWSRELAY.TXT, this file contains the call signs (one per line) of trusted callsgins. Then an NWS message will ONLY be forwarded if it is from one of those stations. SSID's are ignored for this process.

Sample NWSRELAY.TXT file


List of APRS contacts for NWS warnings in different areas

Weather Display Options

You can display weather data along side of the station ICON on the map for all stations that report weather information. The data format and amount of data displayed can be customized in the Station Display Options dialog box. At present, not all of these features are fully implemented but are displayed here to give you an idea of what's to come.

CALL 1 through CALL 4 are the LOCATIONS you want the CALL SIGN displayed. You can disable the call sign altogether if you like.

Age is the age of the last report. This allows you to keep track on the screen the time of the last report. In the case of severe weather, a report that is 10 minutes old may not be of much use and misleading.

Error is not yet fully defined.

Intellicast Weather Maps is an excellent weather web site. For example, is the weather radar for the north east US including Maine to Maryland and as far west as Ohio. These radar images are updated every 30 minutes. Mac/WinAPRS has the ability to use these images as maps. Additionally, it can retrieve the maps from the web server automatically and update every 30 minutes automatically. You of course have to be connected to the internet for this to work.

In order to make WinAPRS to understand these images, a .GEO file must be in the IMAGES folder for each region. These files are included with WinAPRS. The .GEO files are explained under Using Images for Maps.

The 3 letter codes are weather stations abbreviations and many times are also the 3 letter airport code

Global Labels

Global Labels allows you to create a set of map labels that get drawn on ALL maps, these labels are specified by a lat/lon position and a range. If the position is on the map, and the range is correct, the label gets drawn. Create a folder (directory) called LABELS in the same directory as the application. You can put as many text files containing labels here as you like. These labels will be shown on ALL maps. This allows you to create a list of your own labels that get added to ALL maps. The format for the file is EXACTLY the same as the label entries in a DOS-APRS map file so you can use a text editor to copy any and all labels that you want. There is no limit to the number of labels that you can have in this file (well, it will probably break if you put more than 32,000 labels in it). The label range feature is implemented so that you can set the labels so they won't clutter up the map if you are zoomed out.

The format for the label is Label,latitude,longitude,range There are 3 different variations of the format

All lines starting with "*" are comment lines and ignored. In the future you will be able to edit these labels from within MacAPRS / WinAPRS.


In the same files as the global labels, you can create global vectors. These would be used to trace the route of a bike race, or to mark of a grid for a special event etc. The vectors are listed in normal Lat/Lon pairs with a "/" in the first column. A "\" in the first column means start a new line (i.e. pick up the pen). Here is a sample These vectors will be displayed on all maps at all resolutions, to turn them off, remove them from the labels folder and restart. It is perfectly OK to mix global labels and vectors in the same file. This allows you to create a single file for a particular event that you only use once a year. During the rest of the year, simply move the file to some other directory.


You can also place raw GPS data streams in the labels folder, they will behave the same as the vectors above. This allows you to drive around a bike race course logging the GPS data, then simply throw that file into the LABELS folder and have an automatic overlay in red of the race course.

Window Config Files

You can save your set of windows including the location of the windows. Win/MacAPRS will automatically load WinAPRS.cfg / MacAPRS.cfg on startup if present. At anytime you can load another config file by simply doing a FILE OPEN. When you do this it will close all existing windows and open up all of the news ones in the specified config file. To save a config file, open up the window(s) (map or list or other) and place them on the screen as desired. Then do a FILE / SAVE WINDOW CONFIG.

GPS Control

Mac/WinAPRS offers the ability to communicate with Garmin GPS units for more than just NMEA data. You can extract waypoints, track logs, even screen shots from most common Garmin GPS units. The ability to extract a track should work with all Garmin GPS units. The ability to extract a screen shot should work with all that support it. Waypoints should work with various models listed below.

In order to use these features, the Garmin GPS unit must be put in Garmin HOST mode, this is normally done under the interface setup section of the GPS.

Waypoint upload/download support for

RDF - Radio Direction Finding

Radio Direction Finding, also known as fox hunting, is the use of radio equipment to find the direction of an RF source. With this information obtained from more than one location, triangulation is possible. WinAPRS supports the use of the DF-Jr made by Agrelo Engineering, Agrelo is no longer in buisness, however we still support their unit.

WinAPRS supports two modes of RDF operation, local and remote, these refer to the location of the RDF unit. In local operation, the RDF unit is connected directly to your computer. This can be done from a permanent (non-moving) station or from a mobile station.

Local RDF Operations - stationary

For operations where the RDF unit is connected directly to the computer, every RDF report is directly displayed on the screen. In this mode, the RDF reports are not automatically sent out over the air. The default settings for the DFjr are all that are needed.

Local RDF Operations - mobile

If you are operating an RDF unit from your car while moving, you must have a GPS unit as well. The GPS unit must be configured to output NMEA data (all current models that have data output have NMEA as an option). This data must be feed into the the MPA (Multiple Port Adapter) from Agrelo. The DFjr will then periodically send a GPS string to the computer in addition to the RDF data. This allows you to use both inputs to the computer on a single serial port. This is important since many lap tops only have one port. Additionally, a TNC can be connected to the MPA as well. To enable this feature on the DFjr, use menu option 3, submenu 1. To enable this, press MENU 3 times, make sure sub-menu #1 is selected (the LED at the 11 o'clock position) and press enter.

Remote RDF Operations

In remote operation, the DFjr is listening to one radio and transmitting the direction/strength information out the APRS frequency via a TNC and a SECOND radio. Anyone monitoring this output frequency with APRS will then see the vectors. If you have 2 or more of these units located in different places and both listening to the same frequency. Each time a transmitter is keyed on that frequency, you should get 2 vectors giving you fairly accurate location as to the where the transmitter is.

Set up of a remote DF station is straightforward but requires some complexity. First there are several parameters in the TNC that have to be set for proper remote RDF operation

The TNC is to be programmed to have a beacon text as follows

BTEXT !hhmm.ddN/hhhmm.ddW\Comment as you like

	hh	=	Degrees
	mm	=	minutes
	.dd	=	100ths of a minute
You set the BEACON RATE with the BEACON EVERY command. This is normally set to something long, for example, a value of 30 will cause it to send out the location every 5 minutes. Most operations should set this to 30 minutes, 180 would be the proper value for 30 minutes.

BE E 30

You program the TNC to automatically come up in CONVERSE mode. Check the TNC manual for this.. Both the Paccomm Picopacket and the Kantronics KPC-3 have this mode. The command for Paccomm is UIMODE ON.

You set the DFjr to only output data when the QUALITY gets above a reasonable number, probably at least 4, but that has to be experimented with..

Then, anytime the TNC receives data from the DFjr, it is of the preset quality and gets transmitted immediately.

Below is an example of data that would be received over the air:


NOTE: Each of the different TNCs used must have a different call sign (ID).

Each time data is received from the remote site, the data is displayed on the screen as a colored vector showing the bearing vector.

Mobile operation WITHOUT a computer
A remote station could be setup WITHOUT a computer exactly the same as above with the addition of a GPS input. This is not a very common setup but could be done if another moving DF unit was required and a lap top was not available. The GPS would be connected to the MPA unit and the GPS option in the DFjr (Menu #3) would have to be enabled.

Warning / Danger Radius

You can set APRS to notify you if a station moves within a certain distance of your location. This is called WARNING and DANGER radius. To set the radius values, go to SETTINGS / APRS Settings and type in the numbers in the lower left corner (in miles).

To enable a station for warning or danger, go to the station list (or any station list) and select the station. Type D for Danger and W for Warning.

DEM - Digital Elevation Model

DEM files, or Digital Elevation Model files are produced by the USGS. These files are available for all of the US.

A Digital Elevation Model (DEM), consists of a sampled array of elevations for ground positions that are normally at regularly spaced intervals. The 1-Degree DEM (3- by 3-arc-second data spacing) provides coverage in 1- by 1-degree blocks for all of the contiguous United States, Hawaii, and limited portions of Alaska. The basic elevation model is produced by or for the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), but is distributed by the USGS, EROS Data Center, in the DEM data record format. In reformatting the product the USGS does not change the basic elevation information. 1-degree DEM's are also referred to as "3-arc second" or "1:250,000 scale" DEM data.

These files can be downlodaded from the links below. You want the 1:250,000-Scale Digital Elevation Model (DEM) version of the files

Please note, UNCOMPRESSED these files are 9 megs each, the compressed version are in GZIP format, the program to uncompress them is:

I strongly suggest you download the COMPRESSED version and uncompress them, the compression factor is sometimes VERY GOOD

In order to use these files within MacAPRS or WinAPRS, you must create a folder called DEMS and place the UN-COMPRESSED files there. These files are 9 meg EACH when un-compressed. The compressed versions from the USGS FTP site are in GZIP format. This is NOT the same as PKZIP. Programs are available for Mac and Windows to decompress this format.

When you bring up a DEM map, you can overlay any other standard APRS map on TOP of the DEM image. This makes for a very good mapping system with both elevation AND the normal street level data.

You can also have multiple DEMs in a single window, open one as described above, then select another one while holding down the shift key. This will then load it into the same window.

Search and Rescue operations


When conducting search and rescue operations, having a locally defined grid can be of tremendous benefit. Mac/WinAPRS allows you to create a local USER GRID for display on your maps. Note, this has absolutely no effect over the air.

In any map page, there is a button called grids

If you don't have Map buttons, hold down the SHIFT key and do WINDOWS / NEW MAP WINDOW SQUARE

Click on the GRID button, then say NEW GRID, and then click and drag, you will get a square grid with labels.

Again, this is for local display ONLY and NOTHING is transmitted for this feature. It allows a command post to refer to grids while conducting a search.

DX Cluster Support

Mac/WinAPRS supports DX Cluster data in a different light than normal DX cluster operation.

First it operates in non-connected mode watching ALL of the traffic from the DX Cluster so you are not WAITING for your turn in the queue.
Second, it displays the contacts on the map and helps with antenna bearing.

To use the DX Cluster option of WinAPRS/MacAPRS you need to do the following:

You should get icons showing 'radio towers' for each DX spot that you receive.

Space Mode

Space Mode exists solely for the purpose of MIR testing. To use space mode you MUST do these things IN ORDER Space mode uses your GRID SQUARE for your to field (Unproto destination field), this gets set automatically when you open the TNC but SPACE mode must be set first. For the grid square to be set correctly, you must have your Lat/Lon set.

When in Space Mode, the position report and the proto path are considerably different then normal, these follow Bob Bruniga's definition for the testing.

APRS uses

Known limitations

As with any software package there are limitations. This is a list of specific issues that you may encounter.


MacAPRS and WinAPRS are written in C and C++. They do NOT use the Microsoft Foundation Class (MFC) or any other C++ framework. They are written using a framework that I wrote for cross platform software. This architecture started out as normal C as far back as 1990 and in February of 1997 started migrating to C++. Much of the code is still written in C and much of it is in C++.

MacAPRS and WinAPRS are ONE set of source code written to work on both platforms and eventually X-Windows (Linux). The only part of the code that is not the same is the serial I/O drivers and the main event loop. ALL remaining portions of the code are one unified set of source code.

MacAPRS and WinAPRS are both written and compiled using CodeWarrior from Metrowerks. CodeWarrior is a full featured development environment that is available for both Mac and Windows. It allows compiling for Mac AND Windows on either platform. It does NOT convert software to run on another platform, just acts as a cross-compiler/debugger.

Serial Port problems

During the beta testing of WinAPRS, the most common problem had to do with serial ports. This seems to be a standard problem on PCs. I have done everything I can to write to the proper Windows guidelines to make the serial ports work as cleanly as possible. If you are having problems, try this.

When the start-up dialog box is displayed, hold the SHIFT key down while clicking the OK button. This will turn on serial port debugging messages. This may help in solving serial port problems.


Here are some hints for common problems.

Other APRS Information on the web

Related information


NOTE: All manuals should have indexes, using the Web for documentation makes indexes much harder. Please note that this index is intended for the PRINTED version may often be off by a page or more. I realize that this may be a minor inconvenience, but I think it is better than no index at all.

This index was setup with the document printed by Netscape with the following settings.

		Proportional	Times size =12
		Fixed		Courier Size = 10
	Page Setup
		both header (title) and footer (page numbers) are turned on

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This documentation is © 1996-97 by Mark and Keith Sproul.
APRS™ © Bob Bruninga (WB4APR)
MacAPRS™, WinAPRS™ © by Mark Sproul (KB2ICI) and Keith Sproul (WU2Z).

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